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Quarterback Player Rankings – Week 1
Quarterbacks (Updated: Saturday, Sept. 8 - 1:18PM CT)
1. Tom Brady (@ Ten) – Historically, Brady comes out of the gates strong and I see no reason why 2012 would be any different. Last season’s blow-up of 517 yards and four TDs isn’t the most likely scenario, but if Tennessee keeps up offensively with the Patriots like the Dolphins did a year ago, I’m not putting it past him to put up close to those numbers. With Welker, Gronk and Hernandez, along with Stevan Ridley coming out of the backfield and Brandon Lloyd on the outside running routes, you know Tommy will want to hit the throttle to see just what he has to play with this season. With Tennessee’s pass defense best described as “decent”, there’s simply no way they’ll be able to stop New England and the Stetson Man.
2. Drew Brees (vs.Was) – Brees has typically done far better at home over his career than on the road, so he’s got that one in the plus-column right off the bat. He also seems to start off strong averaging 339.25 yards and 3.25 TDs in Week 1 over the last four seasons, so that’s another check in the plus-column. Washington pass D would normally be right in the middle of the pack, but they definitely take a hit with starting SS Brandon Meriweather now out for the next 2-4 weeks, so Brees also has that little tidbit going for him. Besides all that, this is Drew Brees we’re talking about here… like you weren’t going to start him?
3. Aaron Rodgers (vs. SF) – Aaron Rodgers is as close to a fantasy machine as you’ll see in today’s game. As long as he has a full bevy of receivers to throw to, which he will this weekend, there’s very little chance of any team on the planet stopping him. Jennings, Nelson, Driver, Jones, Cobb and Finley are all healthy and ready to do their part in making this a record-breaking year for Aaron, but this San Francisco defense, though known more for its stalwart rush D than abilities against the pass, is a large first obstacle for Rodgers to climb past. The last time he faced the 49ers was also at home back in Week 12 of 2010 where he proceeded to throw for 298 yards and three TDs, numbers that could be bested this Sunday as last year’s team allowed an average of 339 yards passing and 1.6 TDs per game to the likes of Tony Romo, Mike Vick, Matt Stafford, Eli Manning and Big Ben.
4. Matthew Stafford (vs. StL) – The St. Louis Rams defense was so porous against the rush last season that teams didn’t feel much of a need to throw on them. This of course led the Rams to allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to QBs, but that in no way means that you CAN’T pass on them. You most certainly can as Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers decided to do tossing up a combined 705 yards and six TDs in their two games against them. The beautiful thing for fantasy owners here is that the Lions possess a relatively weak running game (though that could change this season), so Stafford is likely to toss up at least 30 passes, a number he eclipsed on 14 occasions last season. This should be enough to generate the fantasy points you’re looking for in a QB1. Oh, and not to mention the most important factor of them all—he has Calvin Johnson.
5. Matt Ryan (@ KC) – There may be no other team/offense I’m more excited to see this opening weekend than the Atlanta Falcons. Moving to this wide-open, up-tempo, no-huddle attack with Matt Ryan tossing the ball to Roddy White and the Falcons superstar in the making, Julio Jones, couldn’t be more highly anticipated. The Kansas City Chiefs pass D was pretty darn good last season allowing only one 300-yard game to opposing QBs, but with OLB Tamba Hali suspended, FS Kendrick Lewis banged up and stud CB Brandon Flowers extremely iffy to play, Ryan should be able to have a little fun. If new OC Dirk Koetter is allowed to open the offense up from the get-go, Ryan could easily end up with top 3-5 fantasy stats this weekend.
6. Cam Newton (@ TB) – Being in the same division, the Panthers and Bucs hooked up twice last season with each game pretty much mirroring the other. The Panthers won both by a large margin and Cam Newton pretty much dominated each game. In fact, he put up his two largest fantasy days during those two weeks combining to rush and pass for four TDs in each one. However, I’m pretty sure numbers like that won’t happen again as Carolina can use DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart (if healthy) to run all day on this horrible Tampa rush D. Supposedly Newton has been given the go-ahead to run whenever necessary, but I think he’ll be smart about choosing his times to do so this season and against a team they should own like the Bucs, Week 1 may not be the right time. 2-3 passing TDs and a rushing TD is certainly a possibility though…
7. Philip Rivers (@ Oak - Monday Night) – Rivers is one of those guys who can toss up four TDs and win you a fantasy game alone at the drop of a hat. However, he can also fizzle out just as quickly while killing your whole team with a three-INT gooseegg. He’s undoubtedly one of the more erratic QBs in the league, but had two nice fantasy games against these Raiders last season averaging 292 yards, 2.5 TDs and one INT in the games. With RB Ryan Mathews very unlikely to suit up, Norv Turner will ask Rivers to throw the Chargers to a victory which could mean big things for fantasy owners this Monday night.
8. Joe Flacco (vs. Cin - Monday Night) – Like the Falcons and Matt Ryan, the name he’ll be paired with forevermore, the Ravens are moving to a new up-tempo, no-huddle offense under OC Cam Cameron. Watching it in the pre-season, I’m almost equally intrigued to see it in action under Flacco’s control as I am with Ryan. Historically, Flacco has been pretty weak on Monday nights but I expect that to change this season with Joey finally growing into his role of being a ‘team leader’. Cincinnati’s defense is better than average, but I’m not sure they’ll be ready to face this new offensive scheme the Ravens will be running. If you feel like shaking things up a bit and starting Flacco over, say, Peyton Manning against the Steelers; I’d say you’d be making a good, bold Week 1 call.
9. Robert Griffin III (@ NO) – The kid has everything you could possibly want out of franchise QB and most of it could turn him into a fantasy darling as early as Week 1. His arm is incredible; his field awareness is highly advanced for his age; his running ability is off the chart; his work-ethic is fable-worthy and his leadership qualities are off the charts. How that all translates to on-the-field fantasy success will be seen against the Saints this Sunday as Robert Griffin and the Redskins try to keep up with the NFLs second-highest scoring offense last season (first in point differential). However, the Saints also allowed seven 300-yard games and didn’t get any better this off-season (for many reasons), so I’m expecting the future top-10 fantasy QB to be off and running right out of the gates in 2012.
10. Jake Locker (vs. NE) – I absolutely LOVE this kid’s potential. My only problem with him is his experience at the position, which at this point is a whopping 66 NFL passes. However, how many quarterbacks can say they threw for 542 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions while running for 56 yards and another touchdown… all within their first 31 minutes of on-field play!?!? Not many, I would suppose. What I’m saying here is that if you’re going to take a chance on somebody this week, Locker is your guy. The Titans will have to pass the ball this weekend if they want to keep up with the high-flying Patriots and luckily, they’ll be able to do it as the Pats gave up the most fantasy points to QBs in the league last season. Kenny Britt won’t be in the game, but the electric rookie, Kendall Wright, should be able to take up the slack nicely along with Nate Washington, Jared Cook and Damian Williams.
11. Ben Roethlisberger (@ Den - Sunday Night) – When Big Ben delivers, he can carry a fantasy week as well as anyone else you could have on your team. With guys like Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller to throw to, it makes it a little easier for the big guy than maybe for some others. When he’s off, however, you usually find yourself beating yourself up all week wishing you had started your other QB. This Sunday night against the Broncos could be one he delivers in for a couple reasons: First, Denver allowed six 300-yard games and seven multi-TD games (four with three or more) to opposing QBs last season. Second, the Steelers will likely lean on the passing game in this one with Rashard Mendenhall unlikely to be active and Isaac Redman all banged up. Basically, Ben Roethlisberger is a great QB to fall back on this week if you need to.
12. Matt Schaub (vs. Mia) – First and foremost, Andre Johnson is healthy, so Schaub can be freely used in starting fantasy lineups if needed. That will always be the main question when it comes to the potential of Matt Schaub each week. He has the talent to be in the Top-Ten, but if Andre isn’t healthy and dominant, he’d be depending on Lestar Jean, rookies Keshawn Martin and Devier Posey, and the incumbent Kevin Walter to get him some points. Whatever the case, Houston should pass the ball a bit this weekend with the Dolphins rush D being better than their pass D, though I don’t expect any aspect of the Texans offense to be stopped much this Sunday. With Houston’s D likely to shut down the Dolphins rookie QB, Ryan Tannehill, look for this game to turn into the Foster/Tate show in the second half.
13. Michael Vick (@ Cle)
14. Peyton Manning (vs. Pit - Sunday Night)
15. Jay Cutler (vs. Ind)
16. Andrew Luck (@ Chi)
17. Carson Palmer (vs. SD - Monday Night)
18. Russell Wilson (@ Ari)
19. Josh Freeman (vs. Car)
20. Alex Smith (@ GB)
21. Christian Ponder (vs. Jax)
22. Matt Cassel (vs. Atl)
23. Sam Bradford (@ Det)
24. John Skelton (vs. Sea)
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